A confession, before we start. This gig had been on our radar for a little while, but only 1/3 of the team actually owns a ‘bike, and what little cred Dr O’s Post-Office spec BSA Bantam might have amongst such distinguished riders would evaporate in London’s autumnal sunshine when his L-plates are affixed. So some cheating is required to participate, but not too much because this is a ride for Gentlemen, even if they are largely cads. Time for a #MorganAdventure. On three wheels.

The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, London, 2016 (to give it it’s full title) is a charity ride for over 1000 bikers in aid of men’s charities. The same event runs in major cities worldwide and raised over $3.5 million this year. Info about the event is on their website here. Here (gallery below, click to enlarge) is a large chunk of the arrivals. From scramblers to choppers, bobbers to brat styled bikes, the common theme was retro looks and good vibes.

The joy of seeing so many distinctive bikes together is that you realise the joy of customisation. Cars, modified, are seemingly considered the realm of the oik. Bikes, customised, just look cool. Look at this lot (too lazy to list ‘em, sorry) and tell me you don’t want one. I want one. I want them all. I particularly want the BSA Bantam D1 (above left, green tank, yellow headlamp) because it looks lovely. No other reason.

 

A few cars arrived. We parked with the ‘bikes, but I would not have been unhappy to be lumped with the London Car Club’s Jensen CV-8 or the rakish XJ Coupe. Still, the M3W gets the most enthusiastic reception and the sound of that V-twin banging off the walls brings smiles from all.

And so we set off. With cameraman Nick in tow, popping up from tube stations to grab a shot then vanishing only to reappear at the next landmark, we thrapped across London from East to West, starting near the Olympic site and surfacing alongside the Thames in one glorious roar of noise. Traffic stopped, onlookers gawped, and I stopped waving back at tourists only when I remembered what a handful the M3W is racing away from every set of lights.

Let’s pause to admire the sartorial perfection of the participants. Charlie Boorman (leg in plaster, riding what looked like a Domino’s pizzas moped) was game. Mods mixed with Goodwood Revival escapees and military types, betweeded Gentlemen and their elegant Ladies mixed, Penelope pitstop and her squeeze posed and the thoroughly dapper and mildly hungover crowd mixed in the September sunshine.

Nobody was taking this very seriously. RAF uniform with Doctor Martens boots? Desert storm combat trousers with Fifties tropical issue number one Dress jackets? Moustaches wider than your handlebars? Why not. If it looks good then it works. I went for trousers in an angry shade of Rhubarb, tweed waistcoat (bottom button undone) and an expensive pocket watch that only tells the right time twice a day. Riding with the Londoners were Germans, Italians, squiffy Swedes and those with regional accents aplenty (mine included, me duck). I appreciated the great welcome from the organisers who should be saluted for their bravery in herding this mob into shape and letting them loose in the streets of England’s capital.

After some sideways action around Parliament square to an audience of a billion grinning tourists, and approving nods from plod, we met in Regents Park. It had been a great event, for a wonderful cause, and we can’t wait to join the ride next year. However – I’m hoping that MotorPunk’s Bantam will still be in bits as sharing a M3W with a dangerous blonde in this noisy crowd is undoubtedly the finest way for a distinguished gentleman to spent a weekend.

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Our little documentary about this event will appear on television sometime later this autumn, on Motors TV. For the audio alone, it will be worth tuning in.

Words; Rich Duisberg. Pics; Rich Duisberg, Lex Pearce and Nick “lucky Pierre” Wilkinson.

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